Stephen Fleming remained non-committal when asked about his interest in coaching the Indian side and instead chose to dwell on his team's bowling and fielding performances as Chennai Super Kings applied the brakes on its losing streak with a 25-run victory over Pune Warriors on Monday night.
“I have enjoyed my relationship with all the Indian players. Dhoni is a special player to be involved with. Certainly, being coach of CSK is rewarding. It's (coaching the Indian team) just about timing and whether it works for both parties,” Fleming said. Besides lauding man-of-the-match Mike Hussey for his well-paced effort, Fleming lavished praise on Ashwin, describing him as a “very, very valuable asset”. “He's got excellent variation. What I see in Ashwin is a lot more confidence and he is transferring that into becoming a leader for the bowlers.”
The 38-year-old coach admitted that Chennai was a “bit embarrassed” by its fielding against Mumbai and was desperate to make amends.
“We thought we had a par, just below par score. Our bowlers bowled beautifully and allowed the fielders to create more pressure. We are not blessed with athletes like the Mumbai side but we are a pretty good unit when we field well. We still need to keep improving on that area.”
Meanwhile, Pune Warriors' Robin Uthappa refused to blame the conditions and credited CSK's fielding effort for his team's loss. “I think we batted pretty badly. We lost wickets in quick succession and that pushed us back. They fielded extremely well and saved about 25-30 runs which was very crucial in the end”.
Uthappa also defended the decision to bat second. “We won our first two games chasing. Coming after two defeats, we obviously wanted to stay in that zone.” While acknowledging the need for Pune's batting to improve, Uthappa maintained that there was no cause for panic yet. “It's a positive that these things are happening early in the tournament so that we can peak at the right time.”
The 25-year-old came out in support of captain Yuvraj Singh who seemed to be struggling for fitness towards the end.
“Chennai is always pretty humid. One has to consider that Yuvi is coming off a big tournament. Obviously, there is a fatigue factor. He set himself up but unfortunately couldn't get going.”